SU among first in nation to issue new Financial Aid Shopping Sheet to accepted students
High school students applying early decision to Syracuse University will be among the first in the nation to receive a new Financial Aid Shopping Sheet designed to help students and families better understand their costs before making a final decision on where to enroll.
Endorsed earlier this year by the Obama Administration, the new standardized financial aid letter seeks to help families easily compare aid packages offered by different institutions. SU was one of 10 initial colleges and universities committing to include the sheet with acceptance letters for the fall 2013 incoming class, and is among the first to implement it. Shopping Sheets for early decision admits will be delivered electronically on December 17.
“We think quite differently about student and family debt here at Syracuse University,” says Don Saleh, vice president for enrollment management. “Not only do we strive to meet full student need with institutional aid and grants, but we also work very hard to ensure our students and families limit their risk of excessive indebtedness once they enroll here.”
In July 2012, Education Secretary Arne Duncan published an open letter to college and university presidents asking institutions to adopt the Shopping Sheet for use during the 2013-14 school year. As of November, more than 500 institutions have voluntarily adopted the Shopping Sheet, representing institutions nationwide from all sectors of higher education.
“We’re happy to be among the early adopters of the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet,” says Ryan Williams, associate vice president for financial aid and scholarship programs at Syracuse University. “It’s just one more sign of our commitment to making the financial aid process more transparent while we focus on reducing student indebtedness.”
In fact, Syracuse University already employs a number of tools and resources designed to help students and families better afford college.
The University’s award-winning Money Awareness Program (MAP), for example, replaces qualifying loan debt with grant funding. The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship Programs will identify and invite eligible students who have borrowed federal and alternative student loans to participate in the program.
Students enrolled in MAP must sign a contract and agree to attend a financial literacy session every semester. Here students learn how credit works, along with some basic money management skills. More than 200 students have participated in the MAP program since its inception in 2009. The average MAP student has saved $12,000 through the conversion of loans to grants.
“The MAP program is truly unique among colleges and universities in the U.S.,” says Williams, a former executive with the College Board. “And it’s in line with our strategy of maximizing grant awards whenever possible.”
Another way Syracuse University seeks to educate students about finances is through its “I Otto Know This” program. Named for the University’s beloved mascot Otto the Orange, this multilevel financial literacy program provides undergraduate and graduate students with the skills and resources necessary to successfully manage their money while they are enrolled in college and beyond.
Williams says an annual, comprehensive financial aid review of the entire student body is critical to the success of the University’s programs. “We don’t just look at what students have borrowed in the current year, but we look at prior years, too,” Williams explains. “We identify those whose debt appears excessive relative to family circumstances and we’ll reach out to them to help.”